The UK to become ‘the global go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors’

Kerry Voellner

16th March 2017

The UK is an extraordinary nation when it comes to science, research and innovation.

We have world-class universities, some of the brightest minds in the world and rank second globally for Nobel Prizes.

Investing in science and technology is critical to our future prosperity, social development and our economy.

The government acknowledges that investment in these areas is imperative and has recently outlined a £5.9 billion support package into science capital from 2016 to 2021. A focus on new technologies and entrepreneurship is also at the forefront of future plans for investment.

According to the report from the government, ‘Our plan for growth: science and innovation’, investment includes:

• £235 million in the Sir Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials
• £113 million towards big data at the Hartree Centre, Daresbury
• £95 million for European Space Agency programmes, including Britain’s lead role in the next European Rover mission to Mars
• £31 million for a new Energy Security and Innovation Observing System, including a subsurface centre at the former Shell site in Cheshire
• £60 million to extend the capabilities of the National Nuclear Users Facility
• £20 million towards an innovation centre on ageing, in Newcastle

Additionally, a further £3 billion will be invested into individual research projects.

The report states, “The United Kingdom has a proud history in science and innovation. Over many years, British scientists have made discoveries that have opened the eyes of humanity to secrets about ourselves, our world, and places and times beyond what we knew before.

“British innovators have applied these ideas – and those of others – to transform the way we live now. We are one of the most prolific nations on earth for scientific discoveries, and we regularly attain a level of excellence, and therefore influence, beyond what others achieve.

“Although we collectively invest less than some other nations in research and development, we have become one of the countries recognised as a particularly fruitful place in which to innovate and we obtain high returns for every pound invested.

“While the importance of science and innovation go beyond the economic – they elevate and improve mankind and offer rewards that are beyond price – any nation should ask itself how it will earn its living in the future.

“The answer must be to build on our strengths, where those strengths are likely to be sources of advantage in the future. That is why science and innovation are at the heart of our long-term economic plan.”

Speaking at The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) earlier this week, Teresa May said she wanted the UK to become the “the global go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors” and also promised more research into how small companies can be helped to grow.

The CBI said that 70 per cent of businesses intend to increase or maintain current spend in new technologies, despite the Brexit result, with corporate access to research and development, being referred to as ‘World Class.’ This is in stark contrast to the seven per cent who intended to reduce innovation investment.

Post Brexit Confidence

Research conducted independently by IW Capital and Crowdfinders, ‘Understanding Investor Sentiment in the Wake of Brexit’, surveyed 2,000 adults and investors, looking at the levels of confidence towards SMEs and whether they are viable investment opportunities.

The study found that 52% of British investors were still confident in using private investment channels to support British SMEs.

The findings also concluded that there still was a degree of uncertainty young adults and financial commitments long-term. Lack of confidence was high at 55% were Brexit was concerned and its implications on the FTSE. Additionally, 49% had concerns of the security of the pound after Britain leaves the EU.

CEO of IW Capital and co-founder of Crowdfinders, Luke Davis said in a press release:  “What we can take from this research is that there is a silver lining from a business perspective as our nation’s investors are willing to support SMEs in the wake of Brexit, something that cannot be said for other investment classes.

“It is now our job at investment providers, and partly the responsibility of the Government, to ensure investors are equipped with the right tools and information to help them act on their investment decisions and navigate this uncertain period with confidence.”

Recruitment in science and innovation

The UK is a leader in science and innovation and recruitment in these areas is key to driving the nation forward. However, the current skills gap is a concern to the government and businesses as they struggle to fill the roles needed in research and development.

To help combat this, the UK Science and Innovation NetworK (SIN) are developing plans which leans on science and innovation collaborations worldwide. They currently have 90 officers in approximately 30 countries.
They are working on continuing to achieve targets and objectives via a series of thematic programmes, including:

• Health and Life Sciences
• Clean Energy
• Food and Agriculture
• Future Manufacturing
• Cyber and Information Communications Technology (ICT)
• Quantum Technology
• Future Cities
• Resources and resilience
• Polar Regions
• Space

Senior Scientific Recruiter at Silven Recruitment, Tanja Cubric says, “The promise of more investment in the scientific sector is really exciting. The UK has such a strong tradition in research and development and scientists based here have been instrumental in some of the greatest scientific advancements in the last century.

“Recruiting in this market, especially with the anticipated investment, will be more exciting than ever as it will enable us to attract top talent from around the world as well as grow our own talent in the UK to ensure the UK’s strong tradition of innovation is safeguarded for future generations.”

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